Gordon Hayward wishes Kyrie Irving good luck, 'excited to welcome... the other guys'

Gordon Hayward wishes Kyrie Irving good luck, 'excited to welcome... the other guys'

BURLINGTON, Mass. — The role that a healthy Gordon Hayward will play next season is a big deal for the Boston Celtics. 

But it becomes even more significant with the Celtics being among the teams that got swept up in the sea of change that engulfed the NBA this summer during free agency. 

In addition to losing Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn) and Al Horford (Philadelphia), the Celtics traded away Aron Baynes to Phoenix to free up salary cap space, and lost Marcus Morris who signed with the New York Knicks. 

“The interesting part of the league is the drama that happens every offseason,” Hayward told reporters following the Boston Celtics and Arbella Insurance Home Makeover Program. “I don’t know if there’s any league like that, where you have major guys moving teams.”

But the talk around these parts centers heavily on Irving, who left Boston despite back in October proclaiming he would re-sign with the Celtics

Hayward, who has the same birthday (March 23) as Irving, said the Celtics would miss Irving’s talent for sure. 

“I wish him the best of luck as he goes to Brooklyn. As a team we’re excited about who we have coming in,” said Hayward, who was commenting publicly for the first time since Irving's decision to not re-sign with Boston. “I’m more than excited to welcome Kemba (Walker) and Enes (Kanter), and all the other guys that are new for us.”

Hayward has been a regular at the Celtics practice facility this summer and has been pleasantly surprised to see the Celtic newcomers in regular attendance. 

But as good as they may look, Hayward knows all too well that success for Boston this season will hinge heavily on his play as well as his four teammates — Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart — who are currently bonding down under in Australia as part of Team USA. 

“That’s really cool for us to have four guys on the team, to represent the US,” Hayward said. “For sure, early stages for some bonding and chemistry building. I hope they bring back the gold.”

Hayward was on the list of participants last year to be part of Team USA, but he said his focus this offseason has been on working out in Boston in preparation for next season. 

“I wanted to just stay here, have a whole summer where I could train,” Hayward said. “Try to get myself feeling pretty good.”

As much as this summer has been about building up his body, Hayward admits it has also been good boost to his confidence, too. 

“More than anything, just building back some confidence; being able to do everything that I’m used to doing,” he said. “Reps is what gives you confidence, being able to do things over and over and over and not worry about how my ankle is feeling or having to be cautious with it, has been really good for my confidence.” 

The addition of Walker and Kanter along with the continued growth of Tatum and Brown will certainly bode well for Boston’s chances at success this year. 

But for them to have a special season, one in which they defy the odds and finish at or near the top of the NBA standings, the play of Hayward will go far in determining how far this team can go. 

Last season, Hayward showed flashes near the end of the season of being All-Star Hayward. 

But as defenses tightened up on Hayward, his impact scoring-wise significantly decreased and defensively, he struggled at times keeping himself between the basket and defenders.

The 29-year-old appeared in 72 games for Boston, averaging 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists while averaging 25.9 minutes per game — his fewest since he averaged 16.9 minutes per game as a rookie with the Jazz. 

Hayward should improve most if not all of those numbers this season, especially coming off a summer when he was able to return back to his pre-injury offseason regimen.

“That has felt really nice; being able to train how I’m used to training,” Hayward said. “Not having to worry about doing stuff for only 10 minutes, only doing a certain amount of reps. It’s been really good from that standpoint, I’ll say.”

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Watch the teaser for Kevin Garnett's upcoming Showtime documentary

Watch the teaser for Kevin Garnett's upcoming Showtime documentary

The first teaser for Kevin Garnett's upcoming Showtime documentary dropped Monday, and it looks like a must-watch for basketball fans.

In the trailer, KG tells a story about encountering NBA legends Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen at a gym in Chicago in 1995 and how that was where he found out he could enter the NBA Draft straight out of high school.

"We get in there, Mike Jordan in there. Scottie Pippen was in there," Garnett says.

"I jumped in, I tied my [shoes] up, and then Jordan was like 'let's go.' I just remember Pippen saying that I was too young to be out here ... and it was Isiah Thomas like, 'I saw you play Scottie Pippen, you could play in the league right now. And when he said that, the world stopped ... He said, 'Boy, do you know you can go to the league from high school?'"

Watch below (video contains explicit language):

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Knowing how great of a storyteller Garnett is, this documentary definitely won't lack in entertainment value.

The last couple of weeks certainly have been notable for KG. On Feb. 13, the Celtics revealed they will retire his No. 5 jersey. The following day, Garnett was named as a finalist for the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class.

Showtime's Garnett documentary is set for a Fall 2020 release.

NBA Power Rankings: How things change after All-Star weekend

NBC Sports Boston Illustration

NBA Power Rankings: How things change after All-Star weekend

BOSTON -- The 69th NBA All-Star delivered something we haven’t seen in quite a while - a competitive game. 

The final score, a 157-155 win for Team LeBron, underscores how the NBA found the cheat code in balancing entertaining basketball with a legitimately competitive game. 

There will likely be some tweaks made for next year’s game (suggestion: Games have to end on a field goal made, and if a team fouls a player when the game is within one possession, the player has to go to the bench for the rest of the game).

Now that the All-Star game is in the rearview mirror of the season, the focus for many shifts almost entirely towards the postseason. 

The last week leading up to the All-Star break did little to shake up the upper chambers of the NBA standings, but the jockeying among teams with middle-of-the-pack status, as well as those on the outside of the playoff picture looking to get in, will provide much of what we saw in the All-Star game - a competitive, entertaining brand of basketball.

Click here for A. Sherrod Blakely's NBA Power Rankings